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Chasing Waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park

June 16, 2023, is International Waterfall Day, and there is no better time of year than spring to early summer to explore the thundering waterways of Shenandoah National Park. The park has more than a dozen named waterfalls, and dozens more course through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghany Mountains nearby.

Here are links to a few of Shenandoah’s most popular waterfall hikes that are accessible via trailheads along Skyline Drive:

OVERALL RUN FALLS HIKING TRAIL

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 21.1
  • Waterfall Height: 93 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous
  • This is the tallest waterfall in the park showcasing an impressive drop as well as an impressive view. The hike is a 6.5-mile (10 km) round trip hike with a climb of 1850 ft. It is recommended you go before June as this waterfall tends to dry up.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

ROSE RIVER FALLS

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 49.4
  • Height: 67 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • This 2.6-mile (4 km) round trip hike rewards you with a cascading waterfall that has been known to feature up to 4 cascades in rainy weather. This moderate hike will elevate 720 feet.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

DARK HOLLOW FALLS TRAIL

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 50.7
  • Waterfall Height: 70 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • 1.4 mile (2 km) round trip hike. This is the closest waterfall to Skyline Drive and the most popular. The trail is only a 1.4 miles round trip hike but has a 440 ft. elevation. Please be aware that some points are very steep and can be demanding on your return but there are plenty of places to safely rest on your way back up.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: No

LEWIS FALLS HIKING TRAIL

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 51.4
  • Waterfall Height: 81 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • This hike is a 2.5-mile (4 km) round trip hike with an elevation of 795 feet. It will provide you with a side view of the magnificent falls. Please be aware this is a rocky descent with some very steep parts. We recommend going early in the season or after rainfall for the best water flow.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

SOUTH RIVER FALLS TRAIL

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 62.8
  • Waterfall Height: 83 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • This hike will take you to the 3rd tallest waterfall in Shenandoah. This 3.3-mile (5 km) loop hike brings you to an overlook above the falls which is an 850-foot climb where you can see the water thunder down to the ground.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

BROWNS GAP WATERFALL HIKING LOOP

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 83
  • Hike Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
  • This 6.5 Mile Loop hike includes both Doyles River Falls and Jones Run Falls and loops you back on part of the Appalachian Trail.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

DOYLES RIVER FALLS

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 81.1
  • Upper Falls Height: 28 ft
  • Lower Falls Height: 63 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • There are 3 possible hikes for these falls ranging from 2.7 miles (4.3 km) to 7.8 miles (12.5 km) round trip including views of the upper and lower falls as well as the longest loop hike that goes by Jones Run Falls. The elevation gains for these hikes range from 850 to 1,825 feet.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

JONES RUN FALLS

  • Skyline Drive Mile: 84.1
  • Height: 42 ft
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate
  • This is a 3.6-mile (5.8 km) round trip hike with a climb of 915 feet that can also be turned into a longer loop hike that goes by Doyles River upper and lower falls (see Browns Gap Waterfall hiking loop). This is a gradual climb that features a picturesque waterfall surrounded by vegetation.
  • Pet-Friendly Hike 🐾: Yes

Always Practice Common Sense Safety Rules Around Waterfalls

Stay on the trail and think safety-first. When rocks get wet they tend to get slippery so keep this in mind and stay away from edges. Always bring water and be sure to dress appropriately. Wear sturdy hiking shoes. Remember that your cellphone and GPS may not always work when you are in the park.

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Pictured above: Upper Rose Rover Falls: NPS/Brett Raeburn